Happy birthday to you… Happy birthday to me… Happy birthday to….
Are we celebrating my birthday? Yes I suppose that is something to celebrate. But why are you giving me presents? What did I do to deserve those gifts? I didn’t choose the date. I am not the one who brought me into this world. Allah (swt) did. Its Allah (swt), Who decided if and when I would come into this world. And its He and only He, Who will decide when I will leave this world. So then what are we celebrating really? The day of birth according to Gregorian calendars? Ok but what about the day was I born according to the Islamic Lunar calendar? what about according to the Chinese calendar? Shouldn’t I be celebrating on those days too? Did you know that the idea of celebrating birthdays is actually pagan tradition?
From a social standpoint this date has just become another reason to forcefully go on social media to “wish” someone “HBD”. A day that you are forced to send your “wishes” to someone you might not normally even speak to throughout the year. To proclaim to the world; that even though I have no real personal ties to the birthday boy/girl, I want to tell the world that I remembered (actually Facebook or Google/Apple calendar remembered) his/her birthday.
From a commercial standpoint this is the day that we are forced to desperately roam the pages of Amazon, frantically trying to find birthday presents at the last minute for someone who we don’t normally gift presents to. How thoughtful is that, really? You must really love and care for this person, right?
Also don’t get me started on birthday parties… (ok actually let me start on that too 🙂 ) So because I love kids, (we all do), I can see how one might want to go “all-out” for their child on his/her 1st birthday, 5th birthday, 10th birthday, 13th birthday… But honestly I believe the root of our obsession with birthdays and birthday parties, starts at a very young age and its mainly parents that are to be blamed for this obsession. Because seriously, what is all this really teaching your kid? What values are you instilling in your child here? I’ve heard crazy stories of how parents will rent out halls or entertainment centers, to throw “birthday bashes” for their kids. There are invitations printed, meals choices, gift preferences, photo-shoots, entertainment in the form of magicians or face-painting, etc etc. For what? For a 5-year old’s birthday!? We all know the stress parents endure as they raise children, but having to plan out this extravagant event each year is just added pressure. And for what? Think about what your child is learning from all this. Also, not to mention, what do you think is going through the mind of the birthday child’s friend, whose parents probably can’t afford a celebration even remotely like this one? Why set such a high and unreasonable standard for other parents?
So now let’s say you forgot your wife’s birthday or your husband’s birthday. Let’s say you forgot to make any gesture of any kind for the said person’s “special” day. I mean c’mon, you’re human, it happens. Oh wow… Well now you are in deep deep trouble. In many relationships this will probably lead to some kind fight or argument or at the very least, tears. This definitely leads to ill-feelings, tension in the relationship and possibly grounds for breaking up… ok maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. Nobody would really break-up because their spouse kept forgetting their birthday, would they?
Let’s not forget, shaytan/Iblis is around ALL the time. He is constantly looking for ways to cause problems and break up relationships. In fact, it is said that shaytan/Iblis sits and waits for his evil workers come back and report the mischief they have created in the world. He is most happy when his evil worker has caused discord between a husband and a wife. So now if something like a forgetting a birthday causes a rift between husband and wife, then shaytan/Iblis is surely a happy camper.
Jabir reported that Allah’s Messenger SAW said:
“Iblis places his throne upon water; he then sends detachments (for creating dissension) ; the nearer to him in rank are those who are most notorious in creating dissension. One of them comes and says: “I did so and so.” And he says: “You have done nothing.” Then one amongst them comes and says: “I did not spare so and so until I sowed the seed of discord between a husband and a wife.” The Satan goes near him and says: “You have done well.” A’mash said: He then embraces him.” [Sahih Muslim]
Don’t get me wrong, I am guilty of doing all this birthday stuff. But in a recent post-salah (prayer) chat with my hubby (ironically whose birthday is coming up this week) made me realize that he was definitely on to something. The reason “birthdays” seem silly and selfish is because we unintentionally put all this stress on our family and friends to “celebrate” this one day for us. I mean perhaps we spent the whole year not speaking to this person and all of sudden we have to wish them on their birthday? What about the rest of the year? Don’t get me wrong I am all for sharing good wishes with another person. But why wait until said person’s birthday? Why not share some nice words or wishes with them on a regular or random basis, throughout the year? Why is that you don’t speak to this person all year long, but have the most the heart-warming wishes for them on this one day? Also, I am all in for gift-giving. In fact, I fully support the whole notion of gift-giving. I encourage it. We should all encourage it. It brings people closer together. But gifts should come from the heart, whenever you feel like it. Why is that if you want to give a gift to someone, you have to wait until a commercially-approved holiday (such as a birthday or Valentine’s day or an Anniversary) to do so? My point is that these particular gestures should become a regular habit, throughout the year, without having to be prompted by Birth-day, Valentines-day, Mother’s-Day, Father’s-day, etc. These gestures of gift-giving, sending nice words, checking in one someone, should be made throughout the year, with no “commercial” pressure at all.
Each year, the day of our birth should be a simple reminder that we are now a year closer to the end of our life. Another year gone. Another year closer to accountability. Not to sound dark or depressing, but in actuality, its just a countdown to our death. A year closer to being called back to Allah (swt)
Instead of blindly continuing this ironical and pagan tradition, maybe we should really stop to think about what it signifies for our life thus far. Make it a day of reflection. Make it a day that we possibly do something nice for someone else. Rather than putting pressure on others while you wait to receive gifts, make this day about others. Why not spend that day doing something special with your child, that he/she will remember and learn from? And make it a regular habit, not just on the day of your birth. Make it a day to start the habit of doing things to please Allah. Because after all, He is the One Who created you, He is the One Who decided the date of your birth, He is the One Who deemed you special enough to enter this world.
And so… on that note…Happy Birthday to my dearest dearest Hubby 😉